Scott Payne began his custom harvesting career in 1968. He was joined by his wife, Linda, in 1973. After all these years, the couple decided it was time to retire. (Johnson Publications photo)

Payne’s 49-year custom harvesting career comes to an end

    At the age of 20 years old, Scott Payne leased his first combine in 1968 and joined his ex father-in-law in his custom harvesting operation.
    That love for custom harvesting and running the combine got in his blood, triggering a career that would span 49 years.
    Eventually, all good things come to an end. For Scott and Linda, his wife of 44 years, that came March 1 when they liquidated all the equipment of their custom harvesting operation, S & L Farms.
    The auction drew hundreds from far and near, along with several hundred more registered bidders on the internet.
    Payne, a Beaver City native,  remembers the first combine he bought when he was 21 years old—a 10-year-old 92 Massey-Harris for $3,000.
    “You didn’t have to wash the windows because there weren’t any,” he said, chuckling.
    Over his career, he would see the cost of a combine increase a 100 times.
    He worked with his ex father-in-law one year. As a two-combine crew, they started the wheat harvest in Kansas, working their way through Nebraska and up to South Dakota. Scott continued on his own up into North Dakota.
    He said they cut wheat for $3.50 an acre and got 5 cents per bushel to haul it.
    The next year, he went out on his own. He later added a new combine—a Massey 410 that he bought for $10,000.
    He remembered it had a cab but no air conditioning—just a fan.  Nonetheless, that was really moving up in the world, Scott said.  
    It got even better when he added a water condensation bi-cooler on top of the cab.
Married in 1973
    Linda said they “always kind of knew each other” while they were in high school.
    Linda grew up on a farm outside Beaver City and admitted  she “always liked the aspect of the harvest thing.”
    In 1973, Scott and Linda married, each bringing two of their own kids into the marriage.
    It proved to be the perfect match as they worked together side by side, harvesting from Texas to Canada and everywhere in between.
Arrive in Imperial in 1975
    Scott and Linda moved to Imperial in December 1975.
    Scott said they saw the large amounts of corn being grown in this region. As a result, he thought there would be opportunity to continue custom harvesting in fall. His hunch paid off.

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